Last month on a Wednesday, the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Control Board released a rule change stating that any edible product “especially appealing to children” would be banned by April 3rd, 2019.
There is a single defining problem that ensures this policy has failed. There is no proven way to define what products are especially appealing to children. This policy shift represents a devastating blow to the Cannabis industry and consumer rights without a single study or evidence of public safety issues.
We live in a society that accepts alcoholic lemonade, root beer and soda’s sold at eye level to children. Our doctors prescribe fentanyl lollipops and ADHD medicine comes in gummy form. Whipped cream flavored vodka is sold without a warning label or child safety lid, and e-cigarette companies have free reign to mix fruity flavors with carcinogens. There is no logical reason an adult can’t choose to consume their recreational Cannabis in candy form, which leaves a simple question that we really need to ask.
Why is the LCB scared of Cannabis?
There is no public health or safety crisis that drives this ban. Indeed, the very products the LCB seeks to ban have been approved for sale for years without incident. These products make up the majority of the nine percent market share that edibles represent in the marketplace and a large amount of shelf space at your local dispensary. The products to be banned include “marijuana-infused edible products such as, but not limited to, gummy candies, lollipops, cotton candy, or brightly colored products.”
Also banned are baked goods with colored frosting or sprinkles, chocolates with colors or unique shapes, and anything else deemed “especially appealing to children.” This vague, meaningless designation is a loophole big enough to drive a truck full of edibles through, one that wouldn’t kill a single child if it accidentally spilled bunch of brightly colored edibles onto a playground.
Washington has sold over a billion dollars in Cannabis products, while the state hungrily ate up nearly 47 percent of that in taxes, all without an emergency surrounding gummies at the local pot store. Parents all over the state bought candy and safely put it where they put their medicine and alcohol. Any issue of children and Cannabis products is one of parenting, not regulation.
This rule change also endangers dozens of companies, from the largest producers of products in the state to craft and artisan candy makers, some of whom take up to 80 percent of their revenues from soon to be banned products. These companies have already complied with packaging limitations and arbitrary rule changes had their products approved and sold legally while the state collected tax dollars for years, only to have the rug pulled out from underneath their businesses with a careless tug.
Come spring, our industry could be short quite a few more companies. Stores will have fewer products to sell, consumers fewer options to choose from, all to a regulatory lust that does little to change the status quo. For once the candy is gone, and all we have left are unfrosted or sprinkled cookies and brownies, the same opportunity will exist.
It’s time to get real about Cannabis.
We protect our youth through education, awareness and normalizing a safe choice as an adult choice, not by hiding it away. Let’s use common sense, not fear, to guide our society and rules of law.